When I was still a dewy-eyed young thing, I moved to Austin. (This was a looong time ago.) I’d recently rediscovered comic books, and one of my first outings upon getting settled was a trip to Austin Books to pick up my weekly fix of funny books.
When I returned the next week, Ron Tatar, the manager, offered me a job.
One afternoon, about a month after I started working, two guys came into the store. One was a tall, thin job and the other was a shorter guy with a beard. They were buying their weekly fix of funny books and we struck up a conversation.
This is how I met The Dude.
Now I didn’t know he was going to be The Dude when we met. There were many complicating factors in the way of our eventual romance, none of which I’m going to detail here. (Oh, I know you’d like me to, but, no, I’m taking the high road. Which will leave most of you who know me completely baffled, I know.)
Flash forward to a year or so later. I’m still working at Austin Books, when one day I get offered a job working at Steve Jackson Games as Assistant Marketing Director. (The title is so they don’t have to pay me as much as they would a secretary.) I take the job. I show up for work, and who should be there but The Dude. Turns out he’s Editor-in-Chief.
Eventually, through a long series of twists and turns, The Dude and I started dating and, eventually, we married. (Thereby finding that one special person we could annoy for the rest of our lives. Thank you, Rita Rudner.)
We celebrated our twentieth anniversary this year.
I’m bringing all this up because we went to a party this week to help raise funds to support the Video Game Archive housed in the Center for American History at the University of Texas. It was a terrific party, despite the fact that it was held outdoors and it had been raining for two days. Maybe it was wonderful because so many people showed up defying the rain. Or maybe because we saw friends and colleagues we hadn’t seen in years.
So how does my romance with The Dude relate? Well, were it not for games, we probably wouldn’t be married. (If you’re going to get all technical about it, Austin Books had something to do with it as well, but I’m working on something here.)
We worked together at a game company. We play-tested games together. (Some of the most fun I’ve had roleplaying was when he was developing Toon, the Cartoon Roleplaying Game.) Later, we went to the sphincter of the Midwest,
The rest is pretty much history.
Our lives have been bound up with gaming for as long as I can remember. I wrote computer-game hint books and later got to cut my fiction teeth on novels set in game universes. And The Dude went from being a workaday game guy to being a Game God.
And when The Dude got up to speak at the party before the auction began, he talked about how games have changed the world. And they really have. If you look around, you’ll start to see the connections. And as I sat there and listened to The Dude speak, and then looked around the room at all these people who were in my karass, I realized he was right. Games did change the world.
They also changed my life.